The lobby of the Reynolds and Reynolds corporate headquarters in Kettering became Santa’s workshop Saturday, where company employees and their kids assembled 93 Huffy bicycles to donate.
The part of the sleigh was played by a 40-foot Ohio National Guard truck, which brought the bikes back to Piqua where they’ll be given to boys and girls whose parents serve the country.
“Instant smile,” said Spec. Allie Duffy, who herself is expecting a daughter on Christmas, at the sight of pink, blue, red and purple rides ranging from tiny trikes to 26-inch-wheel mountain bikes lining the hallway.
Duffy serves with the 1487th Transportation Company, an Ohio National Guard unit that along with the 1-134th Field Artillery Group will present the bicycles to the unit’s children at a unit Christmas party tonight.
“It definitely means a lot,” said Lt. Matthew Baab, company commander of the 1487th, which returned from its last deployment in Afghanistan in October 2013.
“It’s not just the soldiers that go through the deployment, it’s their families too,” he said.
The event was the eighth annual Reynolds Bike Build, which every year benefits an area military unit — Reynolds families have assembled more than 1,000 bikes over the years. Each bike this year came with a new helmet donated by the city of Kettering.
Like all things Christmas, it was all about the children.
“They’re going to love them. They’re going to ride them on every walk they take,” said 7-year-old Josephine Baker, who had the important job of riding the smaller bikes from the “quality control” area where the tires were inflated to the hallway where they were lined up.
“When I got a scooter, I was like, ‘Wow! I’m going to hug it,’ ” she said, empathizing with how happy it will make the recipients.
The event was the highlight of the company’s annual Christmas party.
“(The Bike Build is) an opportunity for all of us at Reynolds to give back and to involve our children in the spirit of giving for other children,” said Reynolds president Ron Lamb. “It’s become one of the highlights of the holiday season for us.”
Cabe Thomas, 14, and his brother Briley, 8, helped their uncle Rob Kriegbaum assemble the last bike on the line. It was their fifth of the day.
Cabe said that despite the other Chrismas fare there — a puppet show, jugglers, cookie decoration, hot chocolate and of course an opportunity to sit with Santa and Mrs. Claus — building the bikes was his favorite part.
“It’s just good to give,” he said.